Forum covers registration complaints

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December 2, 2010

11:59 PM

Class registration may cause less anxiety for students by the spring 2011 semester.

Student frustration led to ideas for registration improvement at the Spring Registration Forum Wednesday. Hosted by Dean of Undergraduate Studies Sue Peterson and University Registrar Sallie Marchello, the primary purpose of the open forum was for administrators hearing feedback from students and faculty on registration woes.

The administrators began the forum by offering two potential solutions to problems frequently experienced by students.

“The system needs to be more transparent and predictable, and students need to know how many seats are still available after overrides, instead of a daily changing number,” Peterson said.

To reduce what Peterson described as “gaming the system,” or student incentive to hoard and swap classes, Peterson offered two possibilities: increased limitations on the number of allowed credits in the first registration round or closing the registration window sooner.

“Our most obvious change must be finding that balance between economic efficiency and giving students choices,” Peterson said. “We believe we have enough seats. The challenge is putting them where students need them most.”

Of the five students who shared their frustrations, four addressed instructor unresponsiveness. Casey Basham ’14 presented a complex case. After receiving the wrong professor e-mail from banner, Basham found the professor’s office and sent another e-mail to the posted office e-mail, but got no response. Eventually, she waited after the professor’s class to talk to her.

“With the amount of student complaints on unanswered e-mails, a multi-pronged response by the administration is needed,” Marchello said.

Students and faculty members expressed confusion over the mismatch between the catalogue and Banner, as well as the process of adding seats to classes. Marchello and Peterson acknowledged that registration orientation session for freshman, including an explanation of the catalogue’s purpose, might diminish these concern. For other irritations, ranging from waiting lists and instructor approval to social class restrictions, the administrative response was mixed, with Marchello and Peterson occasionally throwing up their hands.

“Unfortunately, there is no way to notify students if an override is promised or how many are on the waiting list from Banner,” Peterson said. “Waiting lists and instructor approvals are helpful for professors who are trying to manage an overwhelming waiting list,” Peterson said.

Marchello reiterated that the 2006-2007 Board of Visitors decided that social class should be the registration timetable determinate.

“The emphasis is always on the fair playing field. People with Advanced Placement credits or International Baccalaureate credits would be given an unfair advantage if credits earned were the prioritizing registration factor,” Marchello said.

In response to the observation by Abigail Dean ’14 that many people end up double majoring because they earn credits for classes in which they are forced to register, Peterson said that the purpose of a liberal arts education is to take classes outside of your major.

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